Wednesday 30 September 2020

Yet another non-starter in Powys . . .


A lovely old cottage in Myddfai.

Another pleasant day out yesterday, driving not so deep into Powys and only one property to view (as the 2nd one had gone under offer the day after we asked to view).  The scenery was gorgeous again and the house in a village, and not TOO far off the beaten track.  However, the downside of the property was obvious when we arrived.  You drove past a few cottages on a narrow tarmaced lane and then there was a little green hill (with a few slate slabs sticking through in places).  As we drove up the little green hill I laughingly said, "Gosh, I wouldn't like to have to reverse back down here."  This turned out to be a self-fulfilling prophecy as when we got to the top, a small blue car was getting stuck in the grass and mud as a previous viewer tried to turn around.  The agent's car was of course taking up the only real parking/turning space . . .  We reversed, as it was obvious no-one was going anywhere!  I had to park down in the village.

The cottage itself was a project - it had been hideously decorated but the actual room sizes weren't too bad and there was a downstairs bathroom and en-suite which is a good idea with an eye to the future.  Approachable staircase, upstairs sitting room (in egg-yolk yellow, ceiling as well!). All the bathroom suites needed replacing. It had a paddock too but getting to that with anything bigger than a skinny sheep was problematical.  The garden was extremely overgrown and steep behind the house - needed terracing - and in front v. overgrown and nowhere for veg really.  FANTASTIC views, really lovely.  It was very Tam (whose choice this one was) and I could see its potential, but for Keith and I the approach was a complete and utter deal-breaker, despite the agent assuring us we could take down the hedge and enlarge the parking/turning area.  All very well except when we checked on the Google earth photo, that would be on Next Door's land!!!

We came back via Hay to see the agent who had shown us the house we were trying to buy (sold 6 weeks ago) - we were trying to buy the other half but apparently the people who had bought it were trying to raise the money for that too.   We were gutted.  

Just one more to see now and if that isn't right, we are going to be in rented accommodation, and that is the last thing we want . . .

Sunday 27 September 2020

Mid-Wales properties viewed


This was the view from the property we viewed in Mid-Wales yesterday.  Fabulous.  Property fabulous, BUT it was cheek by jowl with others of its kind and we didn't feel happy about being an old couple (in years) compared with the younger dynamic there, still with children.  We'd have been like the Beverley Hillbillies I reckon!  Plus running costs there much higher than here in Carms (Council Tax was top band and 1/3 higher).

2nd property - had the space but not the layout.  A shame, as it had a nice feel, but they had done the wide-angle lens with the house and the kitchen was a tad tight. An extension hadn't been thought out and they had lost 3 usable rooms by not planning the layout.  So you had three big halls that you could mainly just walk through.

3rd one - well, the agent had been hard at work doing a cosmetic job on parts of this too and apparently even gardens can be enhanced with the right camera setting.  The wonderful kitchen extension was like a large greenhouse close-to, and the owner admitted it couldn't be used in winter as it got too cold.   It was all fur coat and no knickers, sadly, and could easily become a money pit.  I won't go into details but don't want to identify it.  If we had £50K to hand after buying it, we might have offered but she wouldn't budge a penny on the price (though that had been "offers around" not offers over).  Since we are cash buyers, that is normally a good bargaining position but this woman obviously didn't want to sell that much. . . Another property we were going to view next week is now under offer and I am having nightmares, literally.

Sorry about the photo - it was taken from a moving car.  The scenery was stunning. 

Our cracked car window gets fixed tomorrow - another drain on the economy - and we also have to have our water supply tested . . .  We are suddenly COMPLETELY out of heating oil - since I am sure we had hardly used any from when I looked a couple of weeks ago, a bit worried that someone came and removed it all - there are bods who do this and of course, it looks like you are having it delivered and not SUCKED OUT!

Wednesday 23 September 2020

House viewings thus far

 That's US looking at houses for a change. First one, in Pembrokeshire, chosen for size, disappointing as it said on the listing it had been renovated - well, yes, except they forgot to do the holes in the roof so all the money spent inside is quickly becoming money ill spent.  Still a possible depending on builders' quotes.

The West Country ones were disappointing.  Because of the distance involved (Barnstaple area, which is 188 miles each way) and not being able to stay over, we chose the two most likely.  The first one, the Agents had REALLY done a cosmetic job on the interior and made it look light and bright and that was a real attraction after living in this house which can be gloomy in winter.  When we got there it was like the black hole of Calcutta and the generously-sized (by the agent that is) kitchen/breakfast room had two external walls and a downstairs loo in that measurement so was a squeeze.  Also the staircase was very steep with a very low ceiling at the bottom and even me, at 5' 2" had to duck!  No way would our bed get up there and it would be a very tight fit with the chests of drawers too.  Ah well.

The 2nd one was a beautiful house, especially the sort of Medieval Hall annexe they had added where the forge had been.  Hard to fault internally, but externally the "quiet road" they told us it was on was actually the old main road to Barnstaple and still quite busy.  Plus the storage shed was like a squat telephone box and the "wraparound garden" was a heap of shale and a tree on one side and went up vertically in a small cube the other.  No good for us keen gardeners or for cats.  What you DON'T see on paper!  Plus parking just for one car, although the lane behind was quiet and you could have parked there too.  

We went into Barnstaple, which was rather quiet and subdued out of season and in this Year of the Plague, and had a wander round after the 2nd viewing.  Before viewing the first we had a wander around South Molton, which is still the same pleasant little market town we remembered from a holiday down that way a few years back.

Now we are on to viewing more Welsh ones, up along the Welsh Marches and one in mid-Wales.  I will report back in due course.  No photos from Devon as I was the Named Driver and forgot the camera when we had our walk-abouts.

Monday 21 September 2020

We're in One-Eyed Horse Territory now

 Right, the next stage has now set in - desperation in finding another property to buy as the people buying our buyers' property want to be in ASAP and definitely before Christmas!  They may be disappointed if other solicitors can't get the conveyancing done swiftly because there is such a log jam of buying and selling.  Anyway, we need to find somewhere very quickly, and had our first viewing today - an empty property about 40 miles from us.  It was the right SIZE and described as "renovated" and indeed had a brand new kitchen, but had been allowed to get in a state - work had been done to sort out the inside, but the owner lived in London and had just been paying the builders and they had done as little as possible AND not touched the roof, which was leaking like a sieve . . .  We could largely see what needed doing, but it's always a bit worrying what they have floor-slabbed or plastered over!  Closed in fireplaces didn't have air bricks for example and the chimneys hadn't been capped either, new plaster walls had a damp problem already! and all the skirting boards and some doors etc had wet rot and were like brown foam, so it  needed a lot spending on it (but was offered way under the asking price.)  You would need a damn good survey after you had gone there with a builder to get a quote on putting it right.  It was either a money pit or a good investment!

Now, to even consider this house shows that we are in One-Eyed Horse Territory.  This expression came from when I was looking for a horse again back in 1999/2000 and nothing was suitable and I even considered a horse with one eye because he was a good sort (and priced accordingly).  I am glad I walked away as the next week I found my darling Fahal.

You will probably all think, go into rented accommodation but that would soon start eating into our capital, what with having to have the cats inocculated and put in a cattery (they would hate that), a minimum of 6 months' rental on somewhere for us to live, and the HUGE cost of storage of our belongings, which would be probably £200+ a week.  So, we have another bunch of houses up on the Welsh marches to go and see as soon as the agent gets back to us with viewing times.

I wonder where we will end up, as the West Country is also in the equation and I'd love to get back to my roots. . .

Friday 18 September 2020

How many "useful" ice cream tubs do I really need?

 I have just been putting things "out of sight" in the kitchen as our buyers are coming back today to meet up with two local builders I have managed to get hold of to do some work on the cart shed barn (for his business).  They are sure to want to look around the house again so I Will have to make sure it is presentable and the kitchen table not strewn with apples for starters! Anyway, I digress: I appear to have umpteen "useful" ice-cream containers in there, with lids of course, which I use for putting soups and cooked fruits in the freezer.  Time for a sort out if we are to move.  I went through my baking stuff last year and put a box of surplus loaf tins and baking trays into auction along with various other ephemera.  Now I need to do a lot more pruning - a job for the weekend.  

Plus "going through drawers" - another round of that.  Then there are the (many) storage boxes of fabrics for patchwork.  I shan't have room for those when we move so I will have to harden my heart.  We won't talk about the books, yet, but if Tam had her way I would only own about a dozen. . .

I need to phone one of the Charity Shops too, and arrange to take sundry bags of "stuff" in to them.  I know that the Sally Army one is open again and they are a good cause to support, and will take books too.  

I spent all of yesterday morning on the phone to Agents in Wales and the West Country, trying to arrange viewings.  Easier said than done, believe me.  Especially with the owner who works shifts and the agents never know which day in the week they can arrange a viewing for . . .  They will "get back to me".  A PITA as I couldn't then arrange the next house in that area for the same day. Then there's one that is Online Viewing only.  Do they honestly think that people are going to buy a house sight unseen?  This one has a barn attached to the house and we would want to see how rough THAT was inside, and what needed doing to it . . .  You can't get the feel for a house properly just from a photo.

I am being held to ransom by apples again.  These are just a few of the biggest ones from ONE tree.  I have already cooked up loads and given bags and bags away!

Right, this won't do.  Still frightened it will All Fall Through . . .

Thursday 17 September 2020

WELL! That's a turn up for the books!!

 Someone likes our house.  A lot.  We need to go and look for somewhere else to live.  I don't want to tempt fate though - many a slip 'twixt cup and lip as they say.  Of course, finding that "dream house" is not easy - they are either ridiculously small or else on a main road.  We are looking over a wide area too - all of Powys, Herefordshire and the West Country too.  I have to be careful not to slew it towards the West Country too much, but I would love to return to my roots.  If the house is mostly right, then the garden is a dead loss.  If it has a fabulous garden, then it has bedrooms so pokey you'd struggle to get more than a bed in them.  Some promise much from their kerb appeal and then you look inside and they have been modernised so that all their historical integrity has gone.  I hate that.  The ones that push our buttons are in deepest Powys - half way up a mountain or generally in the middle of nowhere.  I wonder where we will fetch up?

Here are some photos from a day out Keith and I had last week, up to the beautiful Elan Valley by Rhayader.

Wonky chimneys in Rhayader, and below, an Arts and Crafts frontage to a house.

Friday 11 September 2020

A week spend wading through treacle


Finally the last of the Newport, Pembs photos.  Fairly self-explanatory I hope.

     I have had another week of being really down in the dumps - it's felt like wading through treacle and about as black and gloomy.  I have had to literally MAKE myself do jobs that had to be done, although once again the wine-making has been put on hold and may well spoil if I don't get round to it SOON - needs to go into the demijohn with an airlock.  

     No news back from last week's viewing, so I take it that it's a no.  We have another viewing on Tuesday, so the Housework Head will have to go on and I need to try and finish tidying up in one corner of the garden where I am cutting back the PHM rambler.  Have a lovely weekend my friends.

Pentre Ifan and the view from up there.

Some stones that auditioned but didn't make it!

Tuesday 8 September 2020

Oh dear . . .

I seem to have mislaid a bat.  It was injured and couldn't fly, but was able to scoot around the carpet.  I turned my back a moment, and there it was gone.  Not difficult on a dark carpet and with a Coffer to scoot under.  I got a torch, but still can't see it.  Slippers are the order of the day then . . .

Thank you all

This is Newport Castle.  They must have wonderful sea views from up there.

Many thanks to you all for your supportive comments.  Blogland has so many lovely people out there and you have helped prop me up.  I am still down in the dumps but trying to get things in perspective, and to count my blessings.

I am still wading through treacle though, and forcing myself to do things which I would normally take pleasure from but perhaps it will all come right in the end.

It looked like even the toaster had it in for me this morning, as I couldn't get it to grip when I wanted toast.  As I had used it for crumpets yesterday, I assumed I had broked it!  Just gone down again to show Keith we would need to replace it, and it worked perfectly.  Hmmm.

I will try and get a walk in today as that always helps to put my brain in a better place.  Meanwhile, thank you.  I will put up some more Newport photos later.

Monday 7 September 2020

The Universe has it in for me

For some reason I am being blocked in everything I am trying to do.  I have spent the last fortnight contacting companies trying to get a quote for some lime work which needs doing.  One came out, but we never heard back from him, despite texts and messages on his answer phone.  We are still waiting to hear back from two more companies we've contacted.

I actually SPOKE to the chap who cuts the side lawn (former paddock) for us, and he said he would be up "next week".  That was last week and we haven't seen him yet.  

Tam's been trying to set up on-line banking for K, and although mine with Lloyds was straightforward, Nat-West seem to want to block you at every turn.  We managed to (finally) register it this morning, only to find another hurdle - they want you to use a card reader every time you try and make a transaction!  Blardy hell - we're not money-laundering (I wish!)

We had another viewing on Saturday.  They have viewed lots of properties, so I expect they will have already pretty well found something before they got here.  I have just given up hope completely.  The scenario I can see unfolding ahead of us is not a good one and I am not in a good place in my head right now.

On the positive side, Keith has nearly finished the solid oak medieval "ark" for my flower supplies.  It turned out a bit bigger than I expected so I will have to clear a corner of the junk room to put it in.  I will suggest it goes on casters as it's very heavy to move around!! 

I made some more pickled onions at the weekend and this morning I made a jar of mincemeat, which smells amazing already, with the cinnamon and mixed spice in it.

I am trying to keep my glass half-full but fear it has been knocked over and emptied completely, if not broken. 

Friday 4 September 2020

Sea air

With Keith for scale, Pentre Ifan burial chamber, near Newport, Pembs.  Below, Tam paddling.

I'm taking a wee break from blogging.  I've been sleeping badly and am very down these days.  We have another viewing tomorrow, some London folks, so I dare say country life around here will frighten them half to death and I am not expecting anything to come of it.  Must get back to the housework.